Growing Oyo economy through agribusiness

The message of diversification of economy is taking hold on Oyo state government as it plans to make agribusiness its source of income. BAYO AGBOOLA reports.

There is no doubt that global now, the norm is diversification of the economy. Nigeria, as a country on her own, has realised that it is time to diversify its economy from sole dependence on petroleum to other sectors mainly agriculture. This sector used to be the mainstream of the economy especially in the days of regional governments.
As a way of moving towards achieving the much-needed diversification of the economy, some of the states in the country are now busy moving towards the direction by adopting what is now known as agribusiness to boost their economy.

Giving the hint

In the recent times, Oyo state is leaving no stone unturned at becoming a leading force in the agricbusiness drive to move the state economy forward. This is because Gov Seyi Makinde recently at the commissioning of the 76.67 km Alao-Akala Memorial Highway in Ogbomosho emphasized the commitment of his administration towards enhancing the state’s economy particularly through agribusiness. He said, “Our focus had always been to ensure that we spread developments all around. Gone are the days when all our IGR would come from only one zone. Yesterday night, I slept at Fasola, in the Oyo zone. So, we have a big development there at Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub, which hosts several large and medium scale international and national businesses.

“We are going to commence something similar in Eruwa and Ijaiye which would happen this year. So, we would continue to reduce our infrastructural deficit and move more of our people from poverty to prosperity. As we celebrate five years of ‘Omituntun’ in Oyo state, our solemn pledge is to continue to do everything within our power to bring development to our people.”

In corroboration of the governor

Few days after this, the director-general, Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) and executive adviser on agribusiness to Gov Seyi Makinde, Dr Debo Akande minced no words in saying there will be no going back in the determination of the state government at returning the state to the old days of relying on agriculture to sustain its economy.

He said, “We are building and developing the foundation and when things grow as we are building agricultural industrial hubs in different locations including Fasola, Eruwa, Ijaye, this would be needed and would be required.”

Arrival of investors

Already, Dr Akande hinted that a French firm, SEMMARIS-Rungis International Market, is set to support the establishment of an international wholesale agribusiness market in Oyo state and that the investors plan to complement the Gov Makinde administration’s efforts in the agribusiness sector with the establishment of the market, which would be a major market for agribusiness and for farmers.

Receiving a delegation of the firm, including its head of International Projects, Timothée Witkowski and consultant-market specialist, Steve Allen during a courtesy visit to Gov Makinde in Ibadan on June 5, he revealed that the direct benefit of the wholesale market to the people is that the state is becoming highly industrialised and also helping to develop a systematic approach to what farmers in the state would be producing.

Akande said, “It is a courtesy visit to His Excellency. The team came from what we call the Rungis-SEMMARIS Market in France. We have been there together with His Excellency in the past. What they plan to do is to support us in establishing the International Wholesale Agribusiness Market in Oyo state, most likely in Ibadan.

“This is to complement a lot of work the governor has been doing in agribusiness in the state. It would be a major market for agribusiness and for farmers as well. They have gone round to see most of the facilities that have been built by the governor in the past five years. They have been to lseyin-Moniya road, Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub, Bodija Market, Akinyele Market and others to see what is currently on ground and what they can do to advance on that’

Akande said further that, “What they have in France, which we are mirroring ourselves after, is a global market, the largest wholesale market globally and we have seen it. If you go there by 5 a.m, you won’t see anybody because most of the products in that place have been taken by trailers, moving to diverse places in Europe. So, we are anticipating that the growth of agribusiness and agriculture within our state would demand us to have that kind of a centralised system for the wholesale agricultural market. We are building and developing the foundation and when things grow as we are building agricultural industrial hubs in different locations including Fasola, Eruwa, Ijaye, this would be needed and would be required.

“If a big company wants to come and buy two million tonnes of cassava or yam packed, where will they be getting them from? Currently, they source from different farms and villages, but they would not need to do that any longer because most of these things would be centralised in a place where the farmers can sell them.The farmers will have companies to sell to and these companies can now sell to big companies, which is the concept behind wholesale”

The DG stated further, “If you have a large company that is interested in using cashew, soya beans or processed products as well, it knows the centralised place to come and pick in high volume. It is not now to go to different farms and villages to get two tonnes, three tonnes and what have you. And this means access to markets for our farmers. It means our farmers would now have access to sell their products at a good price.”

SEMMARIS-Rungis’ head of international projects, Witkowski said, “Oyo State is part of a strategy that we are currently implementing. We are intervening in the framework of the French Development Agency Funding Project which is under a tripartite arrangement with IFD, SEMMARIS and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

“The outcome of this study is to basically draw a global strategy for developing wholesale infrastructure to supply products in Nigeria. So, we are currently working on three corridors; Kano and Kaduna states in the north; Port-Harcourt and Onitsha in the South-east and Lagos, Oyo states in the South-west corridors. Given the central location that Oyo state has on the global map of strategic flows of agriculture and also given the potential here, with nine million habitants in the state, we believe that it is a key strategic place for developing a strategic agriculture hub and a wholesale market.

“It is also in line with other efforts that have been carried out by the state to promote more competitive, more affordable and more sustainable agriculture. So, we are working in line with the strategy and are basically happy to put up the infrastructure in these locations.”

Investors speak

According to Witkowski, “We have taken our time to tour around different locations here in Oyo state and it is all positive and we believe there is a strong political will, which is not only on paper. We have seen that a lot of projects have been done and are ongoing. For us, it is all positive because if we project ourselves in the long-term, it would create a whole ecosystem that can boost the support and supply chain.The Rungis Market is a wholesale market which is located six to seven kilometres away from Paris; it is the biggest wholesale market in the world. We have about 12 billion Euro revenue per year for three million tonnes of products trading every year. We trade several types of products including fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, game, fish and seafood. We also trade in cheese and dairy products and flours.

“This ecosystem comes from about one thousand companies for about 13,000 direct jobs. It supplies 18 million people on a daily basis. So, when we think about this kind of infrastructure, it is not only good for ensuring food security but also for food safety, because we have adequate infrastructure for the professionals who can supply goods in hygienic ways. So, when you have such a market, it prevents concessions because you provide a place for the trucks to supply the cities and you prevent them from entering into the cities. This ecosystem is good for an agribusiness environment, good for the development of the city and good also for urban planning.”

With the gradual coming into being of agribusiness in Oyo state, all eyes are now on what benefits it would bring to the state in particular and the people of the state as a whole in the nearest future especially under the administration of Gov Makinde.